Monday night, just two hours after President Bush issued an ultimatum to Iraq, New York designer Randi Rahm stood in the lounge of the Le Meridien hotel speaking so rapidly into her cell phone she appeared to be hyperventilating.
"I didn't lend any clothes out," she said as women steered long racks of gowns through the room, "but we've got everything arranged and anything she wants to look at she can. It's all here."
Rahm was among scores of stylists and designers posted at the hotel last week to pitch their wares to those dressing actresses for the Oscars. She snapped her phone shut to give her model, a towering blond wearing a white fake-fur coat, a start time for the next morning.
Onlooker Lovey Dash, an L.A. fashion designer known for Sharon Osbourne's casual wear, took in the beaded gowns, feathered bags and Rahm's $2-million diamond-studded dress. "This is outrageous!" she gasped.
But it was early yet. An hour later, the cocktail party began for Israeli jewelry designer Udi Behr and his line of necklaces and rings created to inspire "hope, peace and love" and sell for as much as $4,500.
Dash had come to see the evening's biggest name, her friend Paula Abdul. But by 8 o'clock, the only celebrity to show was comedian Carrot Top.
All that was left at the buffet table were plastic trays of discarded shrimp tails and some spinach dip. So Dash killed time studying the crowd. There was the woman wearing a lime-green minidress and sandals with 6-inch Lucite heels. "She's at every event and I don't know why," said Dash. "She can hardly stand, her breasts are so big."
Next, Barbie clothing designer Robert Best stopped by to chat. "It allows me to work out all my fantasies without having to torture real women," Best explained. Fashion-wise, he added, "Barbie's all over the map. To me, it's very Valentino, very girl, very feminine, early Givenchy."
Dash giggled, tossed her long amber locks and recalled her childhood with Barbie. "My grandfather was a furrier," she said. "He used to give me the mink tails so I had Barbie stoles!"
Best mumbled something about the impolitic nature of fur in fashion and disappeared into the crowd. As he left, Dash quipped, "There really is a cover for every pot."